Side Note: Turbine Games Still Need More Polish

Side Note: Turbine Games Still Need More Polish

What’s Turbine been doing the past year? Nothing too exciting, it seems… even though DDO went free-to-play and is apparently making lots of cash, it still has only a skeleton crew working it. But Turbine did just launch a new Lord of the Rings expansion — Siege of Mirkwood. It’s supposed to be really good, too. “Okay cool, it’s probably time I check in on Lotro,” I thought, early this morning. As of 1:30 am the following day, I am still not finished downloading.

I went and got the “Play in Under An Hour” download package. It started off downloading really fast, faster than my regular torrents, even. Then it stopped. I mean, it completely stopped downloading at all, for an hour. I shut it down and restarted it and it went for a while longer and then stopped. Repeat ad nauseum and finally it was finished! I logged in to the character-select screen, and … hey, that’s not what my old character was supposed to look like! He’s only wearing underwear!

Ha ha, of course, the quick downloader hasn’t downloaded my old avatar’s clothes. That’s fine. I’ll just look naked or whatever until it downloads. I click Log In. No, actually I will sit at the “loading” screen for HOURS without any feedback, while it downloads the needed art in tiny scrips and scraps. After hours of waiting, I gave up. (EDIT: apparently I should have shown up as red with a note that my character wasn’t available. But he was in the newbie town of Bree so I guess it figured he was available. I dunno.)

Eventually I uninstalled and tried to get smarter about this. “I do own the original disks, I’ll just install from disk and then patch.” As of this writing, the CD install is still patching. It’s been patching for 10 hours, with an average 200 KB/s download speed. So that’s like 8 gigs of downloaded data and I’m still at -700% complete.

No, really, I’m at -700% complete.


Is that good? Am I almost done? I don’t know. It went to 100% and then kept right on going, all the way up to 800% or so, and then flipped. Now it’s a negative number, but it’s slowly getting smaller. Maybe when it reaches 100% again it will be done.

I don’t know. All I know is they need to work harder to make this game accessible to returning players, because this is the second time in recent memory that I’ve tried to play Lotro and the second time I’ve failed to manage to play at all. Turbine could spend some time on this. I think that would be okay. I mean, they would make their money back for the time spent.

Okay, I’m done with the vitriol now.

This entry was posted in Design. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Side Note: Turbine Games Still Need More Polish

  1. Steelo says:

    Haha, and you haven’t even tried to download the European client from Codemasters, it’s even worse, believe me.
    Anyway, I hope you have uninstalled the Turbine Download Manager, otherwise, you are probably going to screw up your installation big time. Also, you can safely close and restart the launcher, it’ll pick up the downloading where it left it, and you should have a better idea of how many files are left to download.

  2. Longasc says:

    Downloading the European Client from the website too so long that I gave up. I downloaded a package hosted on a now gone fan website that was still outdated but reduced the longish patching process a lot. I still have these files and kept the Mirkwood Standalone Patch, too.

    Yep, they are going to lose half of the interested customers through the download process already, be it USA or Europe.

    I hope you make it in and manage to get to level 65. I would like to hear a designer’s comment on what is supposed to be the beef (Skirmishes apparently aren’t for several reasons) of this expansion.

    I dare to say the three 3-man-instances have a problem, everyone farms the Sword-hall of Dol Guldur daily one time in hard mode, and then in normal mode. Nobody bothers with the complicated and less rewarding Dungeons of Dol Guldur or the Warg-pens. The only 6 man dungeon is at least a challenge, I can’t comment on the Raid, my guild apparently does not get 12 people together anymore.

    I wonder how long they will need to release more content, a full expansion, and how much content area-wise they will offer. Mirkwood is quickly in daily routine quest grind mode, despite all improvements made to some mechanics.

  3. roblob says:

    Having gone through the same circus during the holidays all I can say is good luck. =P

    I wanted to take advantage of the “welcome back week” after Xmas and so I installed the game from my original dvd and ran the launcher. Unfortunately the launcher was of a too old build so I had to torrent a new version before getting into updating. That downloaded pretty fast, but when I started updating the game itself things got pretty weird.

    I left the update downloading for like 24 hours only to come back to a -174% left. That eventually turned around to a positive number and the download finally finished after close to two days of updating.

    Then I only had about two days left on the “welcome back week” so I just barely had time to try anything out. Luckily that was enough to remind me why I left in the first place.

    The game simply feels too sluggish for me. I hate it when I move or do something and the game is just not responsive enough. With WoW (back when I used to play it) the feedback from the game was always immediate and movement felt akin to a fps. It gave me a great sense of control that just seems to be missing from LotRO.

    Now it may all be down to hardware issues (although I’ve lowered the eye candy a lot and my comp is not that bad) but in the end I just don’t like the feel of the game. I love the visuals and the world and I have a feeling I would like the mechanics too, but the game engine is killing all the joy for me to try things out. Too bad, really.

  4. Ravious says:

    I know this a small thing, but by using the TDM I cannot use the Steam overlay. I had to uninstall the TDM completely to get back my Steam chat in LOTRO.

    One decent thing is that they are looking into fixing internal frags via the TDM, which might be nice for those of us that haven’t re-installed since… before MoM.

  5. Ysharros says:

    Lots of MMOs need to learn that “come back for a free week!” (or whatever) shouldn’t include “and spend 2 days of that downloading the client, isn’t it exciting?!!”

    I was gobsmacked when I was able to try Wizard 101 within minutes of deciding to do so, and that was back in the murky days of 2008, so it’s not ALL MMOs, just most of them. EQ2 is apparently available as a streaming client now too, but their beta versions of launchers and the like are so flaky that I haven’t dared get near it until they’ve banged it into relative reliability.

    Either way, it’s really past time we should be able to say “Oh, I think I’ll try {insert MMO} today” and actually be playing the damn thing a few minutes — rather than 48h or not at all — later.

  6. Morien says:

    This past weekend I installed Windows 7 64 bits and needed to reinstall LOTRO (I had Vista 32bits previously). I downloaded the full game (high resolution) from the LOTRO download page. It’s a bit less than 10GB and it completed overnight. The day after I installed it, it patched in a few minutes and I was ready to go.

  7. John D says:

    This is a pretty typical example of Turbine’s sloppiness and disorganization. It shows up everywhere in their games. I can’t believe that none of the devs see these problems, so it must be that management sucks. Despite Steefel admitting that they screwed up in early 2009 with the Moria expansion, I see they same problems happening again with Mirkwood, and there’s even less content this time around.

  8. Numtini says:

    I recently got back into LOTRO. Their Turbine patcher was useless. It failed repeatedly to download doing exactly as you described, downloading and then just stopping. After opening ports, resetting it, leaving it overnight and nursing it remotely during the day from work, I gave up and downloaded the “full high resolution installer” which worked without a problem.

    While it is vastly improved from launch, there is still a lot of lack of polish and attention to detail in the game. There is still no viable LFG system and they haven’t caught up on making the game entirely soloable, so there are some dead spots for quests.

    My award for the worst bit of lack of polish was the “Stop repeated keys in chat.” This is a feature added in the latest expansion that I’m familiar with from EQ2. If you hold down a movement key while in chat, it erases the keystrokes from chat and puts you into move mode. No more shouting “aaaaaaaaaaaaa” to your guild. However, LOTRO’s version only erases one letter so if you type sssssswwwww it will only erase the W’s, but leave the S’s. And it fails to remove you from chat and put you into movement mode unless you release the key and press it again. Effectively, it’s useless. A trivial complaint, but why bother to do a system like that if you’re not going to do it correctly?

  9. zupa says:

    Just wanted to say I really enjoy your blog, and I think a large part of the reason why is that your opinions are always informed, considered and reasonable, making them among the minority in the blogosphere.

    Cheers to you!

  10. ethereal.wolf says:

    i remember the time they let the ssl certificate expire for the lotro servers, you had to set your system clock back a day to log on. i stopped playing soon after that.

  11. Argon says:

    When I reinstalled LotRO last year, they recommended you just download it from scratch instead of installing it from the CD and then patching.

  12. Jason says:

    [quote]While it is vastly improved from launch, there is still a lot of lack of polish and attention to detail in the game. There is still no viable LFG system and they haven’t caught up on making the game entirely soloable, so there are some dead spots for quests.[/quote]

    Not soloable? Wow, you need to try the game again with an open mind. I’ve solo’d my way with a RuneKeeper to level 35 so far and have no sign of needing to stop now. This is compared to my Guardian that I created when the game came out and was forced to group for epic quests and many others along the way.

    Notable epic quests (such as book 1, Chapter 11, the Great Barrows) are now entirely soloable where they used to be fellowship-only. In addition, they entirely revamped areas around Bree and the Lone Lands adding lots and lots of quests. Certainly no down time for new players.

    The new content is quite great and the skirmish system is pretty neat.

    Can’t speak for the downloading, though I’ve never had any trouble when reinstalling. Agreed on the point about a free-trial weekend should take a lengthy download into account first.

  13. Pavon says:

    You are right! Turbine downloading is truely appallingly slow and tedious. Especially if loading from scratch! Paint-drying is a zippy and adrenaline-fuel danger sport in comparison.
    If they solved this problem, as stated, they would make their money back quickly with happy (and quickly patched) new players. How hard would it be to offer a fully updated DvD at their on-line shop?

    Made a hard copy of all the updates and have a copy of the game on 16Gb flash just incase. However it’s guaranteed, that if I ever lose this backup there is no way in heck I’m going to sit through the patching no matter how good the new expansion is – and it’s pretty good.

    FYI if reinstalling from scratch load the MoM expansion – it’s a clean install I’ve been told and so doesn’t need to patch the whole of SoA – and download the standalone SoM patcher while waiting. Should cut out 4-5 hours ;)

  14. Saylah says:

    I had a jaw-dropping positive experience with the streaming download of EQ2. It was too shocking to be true. I kept waiting for the game to fail, hiccup or sit me at a long download somewhere else after materializing in the game but that never happened. Color me impressed and all “Welcome Backs” need to wake up to how W101, WAR and EQ2 are streaming the download now.